Lake Merritt turns RED – Avoid water contact signs placed around popular Californian leisure and swimming spot

A red substance was visible in the water between the Lake Merritt Sailboat House and the Rotary Nature Center on March 7, alarming people involved in looking after the lagoon’s health.
A red substance was visible in the water between the Lake Merritt Sailboat House and the Rotary Nature Center on March 7, alarming people involved in looking after the lagoon’s health.

A rusty red color in Lake Merritt that left lake stewards scrambling to sample the water on Mar. 7 has tested positive for the same algae that caused the devastating harmful algal bloom in 2022.

On Friday, lake stewards sent water samples to labs run by the California Department of Public Health and San Francisco Bay Regional Water Control Board. Unofficial field testing initially detected no harmful algae. However, lab testing confirmed over the weekend the presence of Heterosigma akashiwo, a type of algae often associated with harmful blooms.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when certain types of algae grow rapidly and release toxins, lower oxygen levels, and cause other changes in water quality that can kill fish and other marine creatures.


While the water samples collected on Friday show trace amounts of Heterosigma akashiwo in the lake, officials say the algae isn’t present at a level as severe as those associated with past HAB events.

Typically, HAB events occur during summer months, when the weather is warmer. Algal blooms usually prefer warmer water temperatures. However, Eli Kersh, president of Lake Tech, one of the organizations contracted to track the water quality at Lake Merritt, said that recent weather patterns and warmer temperatures associated with climate change could be linked to this event.

“I’d say that what we’ve seen in the last few years with the changes of weather patterns, going from drought to wet years, we’ve seen changes in the normal seasonality that we’ve become used to,” said Kersh. “With milder winters and seasons starting earlier and going later — like the growing season — if you think about our gardens, lakes are no different. They follow the same seasonal patterns of plant and algae growth. We see it in other landscapes as well: gardens growing sooner in the year, flowers seeming to bloom a little earlier. The lake seems to be following those same trends. ”

The trace amounts of Heterosigma akashiwo aren’t thought to pose an environmental threat, but officials are advising residents to avoid direct contact with water of Lake Merritt in California

City of Oakland officials have placed precautionary signs around the lake which will remain until there are no longer any visual signs of the bloom and water quality monitoring partners have deemed the levels low enough.

“OPW is recommending that visitors to Lake Merritt exercise caution by avoiding direct contact with algae or scum in the water and by keeping pets out of the Lake and away from the water’s edge,” said Sean Maher, a spokesperson for the city.

While the algae is relatively harmless to most people, it can cause respiratory problems in sensitive groups and irritation of the eyes and skin.

Community members can keep tabs on the lake’s water quality through the State Water Resources Control Board’s HABs report map which provides updates on water quality issues across the state, including the current event at Lake Merritt. [Oaklanside]

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  1. The blood-red water color reminds me of the Biblical verse in The book of Revelation, Chapter 16: The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became BLOOD. for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

    I’d say its time they tested this water for blood…

  2. Initially it didn’t show alge in water because the testing was real and not manipulated. Anyone who doesn’t believe go test yourself. Then also test for Blood. There was some nefarious activity under (dumbs🤔) or around the lake and Truth is being suppressed by State Officials controlled by the Usual Suspects👺. Wake up sheeple, if this comment lasts then you know this site is not sensoring, but if not, its under control by The Usual Suspects👺

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